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ALL THINGS TO ALL MEN.pdf

ALL THINGS TO ALL MEN.pdf

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Published by GLENN DALE PEASE
BY REV. WILLIAM ARNOT


" Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars 1 hill, and said, Ye men of
Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. For as I
passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an attar with this inscrip-
t on, To the imknffivn God. Whom therefore ye ignorant ly worship, him
dec/are I unto you" etc. ACTS xvn. 22-31.
BY REV. WILLIAM ARNOT


" Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars 1 hill, and said, Ye men of
Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. For as I
passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an attar with this inscrip-
t on, To the imknffivn God. Whom therefore ye ignorant ly worship, him
dec/are I unto you" etc. ACTS xvn. 22-31.

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Nov 03, 2013
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ALL THINGS TO ALL MEN.BY REV. WILLIAM ARNOT" Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars 1 hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. For as Ipassed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an attar with this inscrip-t on, To the imknffivn God. Whom therefore ye ignorant ly worship,himdec/are I unto you" etc. ACTS xvn. 22-31.PAUL S address on the Areopagus is, even in a merelyliterary and archaeological point of view, one of themost beautiful gems that have descended from ancientto modern times. In itself, and in its adaptation tocircumstances, it exhibits great literary power and consummate skill. It is a fine example of the preacher sown rule that is, of becoming all things to all menthat he might gain some. He grasps firmly at thesame moment both his own aim as a missionary of Christ, and the peculiar character of his audience. Hisspeech is a noble effort to win for the gospel the mostcultivated and refined people of that age. It is a grandcrisis; and this Jew is equal to it. The apostle of JesusChrist is at length face to face with human civilizationin its highest form, and his aim is to overturn it toplace it on a new foundation and animate it with anew spirit. He stands up, waves his hand, and begins. " Athenians, everything I behold gives evidencethat you are very devotional." The words of the English version "too superstitious" are not happily chosen. It is quite true that in Paul s view their worshipwas superstition, and in his mind the word he employedattributed to them a reverence for demons. But theword was ambiguous, and to his audience it might convey the idea of religiosity without suggesting anythingoffensive. They will discover as he proceeds what hethinks of their religious rites; but, in the first instance,he conveys to their minds only the idea that he consid
 
ered them very religious. He speaks the truth according to his own judgment; but he carefully avoids suchharshness at the outset as might have bereft him of All Things to all Men. 333his coveted opportunity. He will not offend the audience in the first sentence.This missionary is a philosopher as well as a Christian. He will preach Christianity, not philosophy; buthe will employ philosophy as an instrument in his work.According to the symbolic phraseology of the Apocalypse, the earth will help the woman. In the intensedevotion of the Athenians Paul recognized a powerwhich might yet be turned to good account. This appetite for the spiritual proclaims man to be the childof God, although in a state of disease it seeks impurefood. This appetite may yet be fed with the bread of life. He knew that the "demon-dread" with whichhis audience were affected was a dark superstition; buthe did not openly or offensively, in the first instance,say so. He will lead them by a gentler and, as hehopes, a surer method to the truth. He conciliatestheir favor by acknowledging their religiousness; andthen endeavors to turn the wandering stream of theirpiety into the right channel.Paul paced the streets of Athens like other strangers.He looked eagerly on every object of interest. Heobserved men as well as things; actions as well asscenes. He took mental note of all that he saw, andclassified the facts in his memory for subsequent use.This is a most precious faculty. Any person can seethe objects; not every person can arrange his observations in order, and lay them where they will be available in time of need.
 
Of the various objects which had attracted his attention on the streets, one now started to his memory,and leaped to his lips. "As I passed by, and beheldyour devotions, I found an altar with this inscription,To the unknown God." Some pilgrims were bringinga votive offering and laying it on an altar as the apostle passed. He will turn aside and study them. Hesees the inscription " To the unknown God." Thesad words are written not with a pencil in a note-book,but with a pen of iron on his memory. He weeps insecret over the blindness of the heathen. He possessesa light which will chase away that darkness. He longsto make God known in the Mediator.These idolaters seem to have advanced one step be-334 The Church in the House.yond their own idolatry. They felt, and sadly owned,that with their thirty thousand deities, and their cityfull of temples, they had not yet discovered the truth.There remained something which they could not reach,and without which they could not be happy. Afterthis unknown One they grope blindfold. They stretchout their arms into night, and on closing them embraceonly the damp air.The astronomers Leverrier and Adams, in separatecountries at the same time, observing certain motionsamong the spheres which could not be accounted forby any known cause, concluded that there must be abody not yet discovered, somewhere in the regions of space in which the disturbances were observed. Seek ing in the direction thus indicated, they found the fardistant and hitherto unknown world. So Greek philosophy was able, from the appetites and vacancies of thehuman mind, which all the idols could not satisfy, todetermine that there must be some God hitherto from

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